Tom's Hardware Verdict
MSI’s MAG CoreLiquid P360 provides good all-around cooling performance, but the fans can get a bit loud in the hottest workloads. With a price of only $110.99 USD, it offers a great value compared to other AIOs.
Handles up to 287W loads with Intel’s i9-13900K
Won’t get in the way of tall RAM
Noisier than competition
No pre-installed thermal paste
Why you can trust Tom's Hardware
MSI is one of the best-known brands in the PC market, producing a robust lineup of laptops, desktops, GPUs, and motherboards. They also make a variety of other components and peripherals, like keyboards and CPU coolers.
MSI has three lines of AIO Coolers that mirror its motherboard sub-brands: The MPG, MEG and MAG series. The MAG series is MSI’s budget-oriented offering, and features a pump which is integrated into the radiator. Today we’re looking at thelargest unit in the lineup, the MAG CoreLiquid P360.
With today’s CPUs raising the bar for cooling difficulty, does MSI’s MAG CoreLiquid P360 have what it takes to cool Intel’s Core i9-13900K and earn a spot on our best AIO coolers list? We’ll have to put it through testing to say for sure. But first, here are the cooler’s specifications, direct from MSI.
|MSI CoreLiquid P360
|396 x 120 x 27 mm
|Pump Life Expectancy
|Intel: LGA 1700, 1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066
|AMD: AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4, AM5, FM1, FM2, FM2+
|Max TDP (Our Testing)
Packing and Included Contents
MSI’s CoreLiquid P360 comes in a fairly large box that uses plastic, foam, and cardboard to protect the inner contents.
Included with the package are the following:
- 360 mm Radiator + CPU block
- Three 120 mm fans
- Mounts for all modern CPU sockets (including AM5 & LGA1700)
- Fan splitter
- PSU Molex 4-Pin to 4-pin (2 Pin Wired) Cable
- Noise reduction adapter
- Thermal paste
Installing the P360 was fairly simple. To begin, press the backplate to the motherboard, and secure it by screwing in the standoffs. Next, you’ll need to secure the fans to the radiator, and then mount the radiator to your computer case. Apply the included thermal paste from the syringe to your CPU. Afterwards, all that’s left is to press the CPU block against the standoffs and then secure them with the included thumbscrews.
Many coolers come with pre-applied thermal paste. This won't be a big deal to experienced builders (they may have a different paste they prefer to use, anyway), but it's rarer these days to see an AIO without pre-applied thermal paste.
Features of MSI’s MAG CoreLiquid P360
Radiator Pump Design
Most liquid coolers today are based on Asetek designs, which have the pump included in the CPU block. However, MSI’s MAG CoreLiquid P360 features a pump that’s integrated within the radiator, powered by a three-phase motor. MSI claims two advantages from this design: longer life expectancy due to the pump being removed from the CPU’s direct heat, and reduced noise levels.
Next to the pump, below the radiator tubing, is a refill port. This allows a user to service and refill the AIO without having to send it to the manufacturer for repair (or more likely, just buying a new cooler).
Full Copper CPU plate
The CPU contact plate on MSI’s CoreLiquid P360 is made of pure copper.
Medium thickness 360 mm radiator
MSI’s CoreLiquid P360 features a 360mm radiator that’s 27 mm thick. This isn’t the thickest (or thinnest) radiator we’ve seen, but it should be compatible with most cases that have space for three 120 mm fans.
3x 120 mm fans
There’s more to a cooler than just the heatsink or radiator. The bundled fans have a significant impact on cooling and noise levels. Included with the MSI CoreLiquid P360 are three 120 mm fans, which are not available for purchase individually.
|120 x 120 x 25 mm
|500 - 2,000 RPM
|Up to 78.73 CFM
|2.39 mm H2O
|Two Ball Bearing
While it was fairly easy with previous generations of CPUs for coolers to keep the flagship i9 processor well under TJ max (the maximum temperature a CPU can sustain without throttling) in tough workloads, this isn't realistic on current generation high-end CPUs (the 13900K especially) without extreme cooling (or enabling power limits).
While in the past a CPU hitting its peak temperature was cause for concern, enthusiasts are going to have to learn to accept high temperatures as “normal” while running demanding workloads with Raptor Lake and Ryzen 7000 CPUs. Modern AMD and Intel CPUs are designed to run fairly hot without any problems – up to 95 degrees Celsius for AMD Ryzen 7000 CPUs, and up to 100 C for Intel’s Core i9-13900K. Similar behavior has been standard in laptops for years due to cooling limitations in tight spaces.
Furthermore, Intel’s i9-13900K supports Adaptive Boost Technology (ABT) which allows Core i9 processors to dynamically boost to higher all-core frequencies based on available thermal headroom and electrical conditions. This allows multi-core loads to operate at up to 5.5 GHz if the necessary amount of thermal dissipation is there. This feature works in a way that actively seeks high temperatures; If the chip sees that it is running underneath the 100 C threshold, it will increase its performance and power consumption until it reaches the safe limit, sustaining higher clocks (and providing better performance) for longer periods.
The increased cooling challenges posed by Raptor Lake mean that we’ve had to change some of the ways we test coolers. Some coolers were able to pass Cinebench R23 multicore testing with Intel’s 12th Gen i9-12900K when power limits were removed (although only the strongest models were able to pass that test). Most liquid coolers and all air coolers I’ve tested “failed” that test because the CPU reached TJ max in this scenario.
With Raptor Lake’s 13900K, not a single cooler tested has been able to keep the CPU under TJ max in this test – because as we pointed out, the chip is designed to dial up performance and power until it richest that thermal result. We’ll compare performance instead by looking at total benchmark scores and clock speeds maintained.
I’ll be testing Intel’s i9-13900K CPU using Asus’ TUF Gaming Z690 Gaming Plus WIFI motherboard and Cooler Master’s HAF 700 Berserker computer case, with case fans limited to 35% speeds. The motherboard’s default fan curve is used for the CPU Cooler’s fans.
In addition to testing Cinebench without power limits enforced, we’ll also be showing results when the CPU’s power consumption is limited to a more reasonable 200W. We’ll also show results at 125W for those who prefer whisper-quiet cooling, at the cost of some performance. For both of these results, we’ll show traditional delta over ambient temperature results.
We’ll provide noise level measurements recorded using a PSPL25 Sound Meter for all three power levels tested to compare how much noise each cooler makes in different scenarios. We expect most coolers to run effectively silently at 125W.
LGA1700 Socket Bending
There are many factors other than the CPU cooler that can influence your cooling performance, including the case you use and the fans installed in it. A system's motherboard can also influence this, especially if it suffers from bending, which results in poor cooler contact with the CPU.
In order to prevent bending from impacting our cooling results, we’ve installed Thermalright’s LGA 1700 contact frame into our testing rig. If your motherboard is affected by bending, your thermal results will be worse than those shown below. Not all motherboards are affected equally by this issue. I tested Raptor Lake CPUs in two motherboards. And while one of them showed significant thermal improvements after installing Thermalright’s LGA1700 contact frame, the other motherboard showed no difference in temperatures whatsoever! Check out our review of this contact frame for more information.
|Comparison Air Coolers Tested
|Cougar Forza 50
|Iceberg Thermal IceSLEET G6 Stealth
|SilverStone Hydrogon D120 ARGB
|Thermalright Assassin X 120 R SE
|Comparison AIO Coolers Tested
|Arctic Liquid Freezer II 360
|Fractal Celsius+ S36 Prisma
|SilverStone VIDA 240 Slim
|Asus TUF Gaming Z690 Plus Wifi DDR5
|Intel Arc A770 LE
|Cooler Master HAF 700 Berserker
|Cooler Master XG Plus 850 Platinum PSU
MORE: All CPU Cooling Content
Albert Thomas is a contributor for Tom’s Hardware, primarily covering CPU cooling reviews.
"MSI’s MAG CoreLiquid P360 features a pump that’s integrated within the radiator...Reply
MSI claims two advantages from this design: longer life expectancy due to the pump being removed from the CPU’s direct heat..."
Maybe so, but if the user chooses to top mount it, this has the caveat of exposing the pump to air - longer life expectancy just went out the window.
A front mount is really the only option if the user wants it to last. Maybe add that as a con, or as a disclaimer on the front page?
Then there's the gunk issue that affects both MAG and MPG series. You don't hear about MPG due to the less attractive pricing, but Apaltek assembled them both and screwed up - then again, they made that same mistake with the Kraken M22...